Stepping

Read the 1st 10 pages || Development History Below

Photo: Aimee Todoroff. Pictured: Daryl Lathon, Erica McLaughlin, Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr., Lori Parquet.

Characters

Bahiya is 14 during the action of the play but played by an adult actor. She was older than her years even then. Black.

Daudi, her brother, is 11 during the action of the play but is also played by an adult actor. A math prodigy and Fatal Battle master. Black.

Etta, their mother, in her late 30s, played by a man in drag. You’ll see why. Black.

Druncle, their uncle, in his early 40s, possessed by the bottle. Black.

Saffire, Bahiya’s best friend, 14, but played by an adult actor. Black.

The Man With The Umbrella, ageless, a well-dressed man with an umbrella, even when it isn’t raining. Also plays Tutor Frank, Doctor and other roles as noted. White.

The Chorus plays all the other roles, and may be involved in all sorts of playful, theatrical ways. The ideal Chorus would probably involve 3-6 additional actors of various ages, types and genders, but to keep the cast size at 6, the Chorus can be played by all of the named actors above except Bahiya. The Chorus roles include: Bully-B, Bully-D, The 3 Skippers, Mrs. Nichols, TV, Mother, Arcade Junkies, Paramedics and Hospital Staff.

Location: A Harlem a few worlds over from our own, and many other worlds besides.

Time: The present, and also the fall on 1993.

A note on the world stepping: The stepping between worlds should have some physical likeness across all characters, and there should be a recurring physical manifestation of the shift—a change in lights or sound, maybe something the others characters do.

This particular world is like ours in some ways: Salt-N-Pepa still wrote “Push It”, their trains are our trains. But Diana Ross sings different songs, the arcade game Mortal Kombal is called Fatal Battle, and, well…people with Booker blood can do magical things like step into alternate worlds.

A note on staging:  While there is a fair amount of direct address, the stage should not necessarily be static during Bahiya’s narration. Sometimes, the physical action may illustrate her words, but just as often it might play against them. This is a magical play, so, let there be magic.

                                                            Scene Breakdown

Scene One: The Bookers and the 1 Train
Scene Two: The Prime Skip
Scene Three: Transmogrification by Means of Red Velvet Cake
Scene Four: Miss Ross and the Bottles
Scene Five: To Unlock the Uncensored Fatalities
Scene Six: No More Wailing
Scene Seven: And now the down is up, and the inside is out
Scene Eight: Exodus, or How to Breathe Poison into Clear Air
Scene Nine: All the worlds that were and are and could ever be-

Synopsis

            BAHIYA and DAUDI are siblings growing in a Harlem just a little different than our own: For one thing, they have the ability to ‘step’ into alternate worlds. This proves a useful skill for finding worlds where their uncle DRUNCLE still has credit enough to buy the bottles into which he buries his war-sorrows.

Stepping is no use against THE MAN WITH THE UMBRELLA, a mysterious figure who appeared during—and may have caused—their mother’s death on a subway platform. Distraught by this loss, their father steps into a world where his wife ETTA is still alive, and becomes her through a sacred rite. DAUDI and BAHIYA accept this transition, and their father/mother continues ETTA’s job as a Diana Ross impersonator at a drag club.

But when THE MAN WITH THE UMBRELLA reappears, things begin to fall apart. DAUDI, a precocious math wiz and arcade gamer, gets into trouble with bullies and his enigmatic tutor. As ETTA continues to ignore all this trouble, and DRUNCLE falls further into his bottle, BAHIYA has to step up to save her family with only her best friend SAFFIRE’s help.

Through dance scenes, arcade duels, strange romances, an exodus and a battle across many worlds, BAHIYA transforms into something she never expected. Stepping is a play about family, drag, and what happens when you step into a new world.

Development History

Stepping received a Studio Retreat at the Lark Play Development Center, with public readings on 4/3/13 and 4/4/13. The staged readings were directed by Lisa Rothe, and featured Lori E. Parquet, Matthew Murumba, Jordan Mahome, Anthony Wills Jr., Nikiya Mathis, Nicole Aiken and Chester Poon.

Stepping received a roundtable reading at the Lark Play Development Center on 12/19/12, directed by Shelley Butler-Hyler, featuring Aja Houston, Jason Howard, Jordan Mahome, Erica McLaughlin, Rocío Mendez, Matthew Murumba and Anthony Wills, Jr.

The first two scenes of Stepping were staged at Elephant Run District’s Stampede Lab at the Living Theatre on 9/11/12 with Daryl Lathon, Erica McLaughlin, Lori E. Parquet and Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr.

Stepping was written over the fall of 2013 some scenes receiving development from Flux Theatre Ensemble.

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